Washington and Lee University Special Collections and Archives Site

Open Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., to current students, faculty, & staff

Search Finding Aids

The W&L Special Collections and Archives Finding Aids contain descriptive information about our manuscript and photographic collections and institutional records. Links to online access are included when available.

Make a Gift

Adopt a Piece of History

The library is also building a preservation program to ensure that the items in special collections will be there for many future generations.

If you would like to combine your support for the library with a special interest, consider adopting a piece of history by sponsoring the restoration of an item in need of preservation.

Out of the Vault

Every month, Tom Camden highlights a book, document, or item from the Special Collections vault in W&L’s online magazine, The Columns, under the category “Out of the Vault.” Some of the works featured here are still awaiting adoption.

About Special Collections & Archives


The Washington and Lee University Special Collections & Archives Department collects, preserves, and makes accessible materials supporting the diverse teaching and research needs of our students, faculty, staff, and the greater community. Educational outreach is a core value.

Planning a Visit

Special Visiting Guidelines for Fall 2020:

Special Collections’ Boatwright Reading Room will be open and limited to W&L students, faculty, staff, and retired faculty Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. In-person users must comply with outlined protocols for room capacity, social distancing, and use of facial coverings.

Due to distancing protocols in response to Covid -19, the Boatwright Reading Room is limited in capacity to 6 researchers at a time. While formal appointments for all in-person visits are not necessary at this point, Special Collections asks that all researchers planning an in-person visit (group or individual) contact staff members Lisa McCown or Seth Goodhart in advance of arrival.

General Services & Policies

Special policies are in place for Fall 2020. Please review these policies at the library’s guide: Fall 2020: Library Access, Services, and Instruction.

  • Reference assistance is available during all hours of operation via email, phone, or in-person consultation.
  • Faculty who are interested in scheduling a class visit or in learning what Special Collections materials complement their course work should contact the department in advance. The Special Collections staff works with faculty to choose relevant materials and develop a plan for the visit. Class visits may also result in individual student projects or the creation of a class exhibit curated by students in the class and using materials from Special Collections.
  • Photocopying in limited quantities is available at 15 cents per page.
  • Scanning services are available upon request.
  • Personal cameras, scanners, and laptops are permitted in our Boatwright Reading Room.
  • Ink pens, food, and drink are not permitted in the Boatwright Reading Room.
  • Special Collections items are non-circulating, and use of archival materials is only permitted in our Boatwright Reading Room.
  • Wireless internet is available throughout the James G. Leyburn Library including Special Collections.

Contact Us

Mailing Address

Special Collections and Archives Department
James G. Leyburn Library
Washington and Lee University
204 W. Washington Street
Lexington, VA 24450